Several projects on tap for new SPLOST

By Michael Davis

A recreation center in Riverdale will likely be the first project funded through the special purpose local option sales tax, officials say.

A project that has been in the works for some time now, land for the Riverdale center's 30,000 to 35,000 square-foot indoor facility has not been bought yet, though several sites are being considered, said Wade Starr, administrative assistant to County Commission Chairman Crandle Bray.

"We're going to be looking aggressively for land in the east Clayton area," he said. "We anticipate building at least two a year and there might be an opportunity to speed that up."

Passed in last Tuesday's special election, the $240 million dollars collected over five years with SPLOST will help to fund several new roads and road improvements, the six new recreation centers, and a new senior center, Starr said.

With $200 million earmarked for road improvements, another $40 million will be going to various recreational projects throughout the county.

Though SPLOST was up for a vote last August, voters voted it down, Starr said. This year's inclusion of six new recreation centers, one in all of the county's commission districts, was added to bring out the vote.

Starr said he believes this helped "lead to its passage."

Some of the 60 to 70 new road projects include extension of Aviation Boulevard at Old Dixie Road to Conley Road near Ellery Drive, a Gardenwalk Boulevard extension to Upper Riverdale Road, and an extension of Richardson Parkway from Mt. Zion Boulevard to Mt. Zion Road.

"They haven't settled on a complete list of all the projects," said Lenard Scroggins, project manager for Clayton County Transportation and Development department.

Through SPLOST funds, there will be "six brand new roads, several road widening projects, lots of intersections are going to be upgraded," said Scroggins.

Some of the bigger SPLOST projects are:

? Resurface 556 miles that would include 1,690 streets.

? Install 93 miles of sidewalks on 44 roads.

? Construct six new roads, pave eight dirt roads and widen 32 existing roads.

? Improve 31 railroad crossings.

? Construct a new senior center in Jonesboro.

? Construct six recreational centers across the county.

One of the biggest SPLOST projects, and probably one of the last, will be the creation of bridges on Tara Boulevard over Ga. Highway 138 Spur and at Upper Riverdale Road, both estimated at $10 million each. Because Tara Boulevard is a state road, "the state is going to have to agree with this before we can start," said Andy Adams deputy director of the Clayton County Department of Transportation.

Though the project has been brought to the state in the past, Adams said, "we had nothing to bring to the table, we had nothing to offer because we didn't have a SPLOST."

According to Starr, the tax was supposed to start in October, but there was not enough time to notify vendors to change their cash registers to the new tax rate.

"We were informed by the state Department of Revenue that it will be Jan. 1," said Starr.

When the school SPLOST comes up for a vote next year, school officials have indicated they will be seeking to renew the 1 percent tax. If approved, the tax will remain at 7 percent. If voted out, the sales tax will drop back to 6 percent.